The No. 1 Villanova Wildcats (36-4) returned to its status as the kings of college basketball handling the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (33-8) 79-62 on Monday night in San Antonio.
Mo Wagner 16 points and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the team with 23 points in his final game with Michigan.
The Wolverines and Wildcats exchanged offensive and defensive blows to start the first half. Michigan started being called for several fouls between the 12 and eight minute marks, allowing Villanova to take control of the game.
Donte DiVincenzo, the Big East sixth-man of the year, scored a 18 points in the last twelve minutes of the half, enough to put the Wildcats on a 23-7 run to end the half and give the Wildcats a 37-28 lead over Michigan going into halftime. He would finish the game with a game-high 31 points.
The Wildcats are 17-0 against non-conference opponents this season and 11-0 when DiVincenzo scores at least 18 points.
Villanova picked up right where they left off in the second half, going up by 14 with 18:03 left. The Wolverines also couldn’t get things going from three-point range, missing 12 straight three-pointers at one point. As the Wolverines started to gain a bit of momentum, DiVincenzo hit two-straight threes to extend the Wildcats’ lead.
Every time the Wolverines seemed to be getting back in the game, Villanova would answer back with a big play, whether it was a three-pointer or a big drive up the middle. They were outmatched physically and mentally by a team that has now established itself as a true dynasty in college basketball.
No Big Ten team has won the national championship since 2000 when Michigan State did so against Florida.
With the game now over, the 2017-18 college basketball season has come to an end. After losing their top two scorers to graduation, the Wolverines still established themselves as one of the better teams in the Big Ten and the country. This time, it was courtesy of the best defense that head coach John Belien has been able to work with. After losing to Northwestern on Feb. 6, the Wolverines rattled off 14 straight wins and collected their second-straight Big Ten Tournament title, their program-record 33rd win of the season, and their second appearance in the national championship in five years.
As is the case every year, the Wolverines will lose their share of contributors. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Jarron Simmons and Duncan Robinson, the Big Ten sixth man of the year, will all be graduating. Mo Wagner has also been rumored to forgo his senior year and heard straight to the NBA Draft. Other than that, the Wolverines will return many of their key contributors from this year and, under John Beilein’s oversight, will look to return to the big stage better than ever.